No pressure Winston Peters. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern is sending the message loud and clear that she is not pressuring the NZ First leader into talks, signalling that no decision is likely until after special votes are counted on October 7.
That confirms voters will almost certainly have to wait for two or three weeks before knowing who will govern the country for the next three years.
Labour is hopeful the Left bloc, including the Greens, will pick up two seats once more than 384,000 special votes are counted.
Ardern said she was hoping for “a bit of a lift” out of them and it was clear the majority of voters had voted against the status quo.
* Special votes could be key to how Winston Peters considers Labour option
* Live: Labour does not concede
* Next government in Winston Peters’ hands, as Northland rejects the party leader
* Ardern ‘hoped for better’ after strong National support
“It’s up to us to then see if we can produce a government from that.”
The extra seats would make it much easier for Peters to choose Labour over National, because on current numbers Labour, the Greens and NZ First would have the narrowest of majorities – 61 to 59 – making their government reliant on a single vote.
Speaking at her Point Chevalier home, where she was holding a barbecue for staff and senior MPs, Ardern told reporters she planned to call Green leader James Shaw this afternoon. It is the first call Ardern had promised to make once the election was over.
They would discuss the result and what was possible in the future.
“Last night I did say that we don’t have a clear result. MMP will ultimately decide the outcome of this election. I’m certainly standing here right now, saying we are ready to have those conversations and that discussion.”
Ardern said seemed clear Peters in particular wanted to take a bit of time. “That’s something I completely understand.”
With more than 15 per cent of the votes yet to be counted it was understandable to wait.
“It’s hard to go too far without knowing that remaining 15 per cent.”
So she would let Peters to take the time he’d like to have.
“In a democracy, of course, you can’t necessarily progress without knowing how everyone’s cast their vote. Particularly, given this time we have such a high proportion of special votes.”
“Right now, what New Zealanders want to focus on is producing a credible, stable government.”
When asked about bottom lines, Ardern said “here is not the place to conduct negotiations”.
“We have to make sure we know exactly what voters have produced for us first as well. I’ve stipulated there are issues that are incredibly important to the Labour Party. but that’s something that needs to happen over coming days and weeks,” she said.
“There are things that are important to Labour and it’s important you maintain those.”
Asked if she would concede to National If the vote-share did not shift,she said: “Ultimately, that will only happen once we’re sure that a stable government has been formed. That’s the only point at which there’ll be a concession.”
She will travel to Wellington on Monday.